Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving post

Well, here it is, the day before Bird-Day. I will be heading to the Texas Hill Country on Thursday morning, having been invited by my good and supportive friends to spend some days with them. They are one couple who has NOT discouraged my contact or involvement. The wife knows that I am NOT after her husband, and I consider her to be my very closest friend here in Texas. And he is up there with her, in support and friendship. And they both like wine!

Last weekend: Friday evening, after my return from work, I was busy. Finally decided what I would bake for the church bazaar. This bazaar is always on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and there is a tea room as part of it all. You can buy a cup of coffee or tea and a single-serving of some nice baked products - for example, I saw a wonderful red velvet cake and also rosettes - and then eat that there. Also, church members bake and contribute goodies for sale to the public. So I made two 8 x 8 sized pans of triple-layer peanut butter brownies. But not just any brownies - I make these with the Ghiradelli brand brownies, and they are to die for. After the brownies cool, you make up one batch of instant vanilla pudding, using only half the milk usually called for. And you blend in a cup of peanut butter plus a cup of powdered milk with the pudding. Spread that on top of the cooled brownies (the peanut-butter pudding combo is enough for the 2 pans). Then melt 3 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate with (approx) half of a container of Cool Whip (unthawed, to start with). Stir the Cool Whip and chocolate together, then spread thinly on top of the peanut-butter layer. Refrigerate until shortly before serving. Yummmm..... They put a price tag of $12 on each pan, and they both were sold before too long. So I feel like I at least contributed something to the church bazaar. I just couldn't bring myself to sign up for working at any of the areas where they needed help. Maybe next year - if I am still in Houston at that time.

Two of the women I met at the Widows group, came to the bazaar, too. We met, browsed and shopped, then went to lunch together. I had met these 2 the night of Greg's birthday, which was coincidentally another W/W meeting-dinner. A and E are fun, close to my age, and E brought her sister-in-law, who matched wits with us over lunch. Fun group to talk with and laugh with. We had (the widows) all, separately, come to the same conclusions about a few who are in the W/W group. And we may start to back away from that group and "do our own thing" in our portion of suburbs. The organizer of the group seems hell-bent on dragging her "boyfriend" (also widowed) with her to all the meetings now, kind of (IMHO and shared by the other two women) in a "look what I have and you don't" way. I am happy for her... BUT. It seems like such a juvenile approach, sort of an attempt at one-upsmanship. Maybe we are ALL wrong about this. And we all think the assistant organizer, B, is off-balance. His wife has been dead about 2 years, he can't forgive the guy who caused the traffic accident resulting in her death, and his 26-yr-old unemployed son lives at home with his dad and stays in his room. Weird. And I think he "likes" me - the others share that viewpoint too - and I try to say snippy little comebacks to him, to discourage him. I don't think that he "gets" that, either. If you saw the guy, you would realize that there is NO way in hell that he would be on my "dance card", so to speak.

We got to discussing cruises - these women have gone on several, me: none - and they said that if we all go, the 3rd person signing up goes for free. So we could split the cost of 2 tickets, by 3. Sounds like a good proposal. I am just hangin' back on this, to see if they decide to plan a cruise. I don't know: 3 middle-aged women on a cruise sounds like the plot for a sit-com. And I don't want to find a cabin steward as my "dream date", either!

Anyway, it was nice to have a week that didn't involve family occasions to bring sadness. There was another family death, but it was a cousin that I have never met (long family story behind that). Still, sad to lose another family member. I will probably send sympathy cards to some of his family. I am in touch with this cousin's surviving brother and sister-in-law, but have not met them, either. Meeting this couple IS in my plans, and I hope to do this soon after returning (permanently) to MN.

So... I am thankful for family and friends. And for (most) co-workers. I am thankful that I will receive a pension (for which I have not had to contribute one dime) and also social security, when the time comes. And I have faith (or maybe misplaced confidence) that my deferred compensation (457b plan) will come back in value, and I am still buying - buy low, they say - and I am grateful that I do NOT need this money right now. My biggest thanks goes to my late husband, who gave me years of laughter and love and companionship. I miss him terribly, but each day gets a little easier. I'll just have to remember what your hugs were like, babe.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Six months

Another “anniversary” – and not the kind you want to note, believe me. Six months on Saturday, following Greg’s death. Six long LONG L-O-O-O-N-G months. And yet, so NOT long. Amazing that half-a-year has slipped away, somewhere in the haze and the fog. Six months of trying to find ME in that mist somewhere. I guess I have made some progress. I’m cooking and eating again. Not so much fun, all alone. Worse than when I was single, when I had hope, when I was a lot younger. When I looked forward to weekends, rather than dreading them.

When I picked up the mail on Saturday afternoon, it was primarily junk mail. Which I didn’t get around to opening until Sunday. Due to my attitude, no doubt. I mean, where’s the rush on ANYTHING nowadays? And lo and behold – advertising from the Neptune Society. Are you familiar with this organization? They provide cremation services without the necessity of using a funeral home. At least this letter was in MY name and not his. I have never been in contact with this group, so I am not sure what triggered my name going on the mailing list. Bad, BAD timing, is all I can say. Although – if I returned the requested information on the card which was included, I would be eligible for a pre-paid cremation! Woo hoo – and then I would have to declare the “value” of the prize on my income tax form as income, I am sure.

Shifting gears, trying to get into a better mood. Some good news – the woman that I car-pooled to my last W/W dinner with, found my earring in her car! It was on the rug, and although she had looked the following day, it didn’t reveal itself. Later in the week, she was unloading groceries and moved the rug and there it was. I am happy to be getting that back – it was a better quality pair of earrings and unique enough that I was kicking myself for losing it. Not REALLY expensive - I recall $30 or less, but love the style and color. Seems like you rarely lose one of those crappy little costume-jewelry kinds.

My last remaining aunt (on my dad’s side) died yesterday. She had had emphysema for years and needed oxygen for many of the last years, too. She was rushed to the hospital over the weekend and then was diagnosed with a fast-growing type of lung cancer. She refused any treatment and returned to the home that she shared with a son, daughter-in-law (who is a respiratory therapist) and their kids. They didn’t think she’d make it through Sunday night, but she finally slipped away Monday afternoon. She was married to my dad’s youngest brother, who died several years before her. So now my mom is the last living embodiment of my dad’s generation of that family. When she goes…. Well, then it will be down to me and my cousins (about 35 or so of us), as we start our own countdown. Weird, and yet it is “the circle of life”, as we all know from The Lion King. So the deaths of the last two aunts really, REALLY made me even more happy with my decision to attend the family reunion in July. I got to see and talk with both of them, not knowing that they would never be at another family reunion again. (As one cousin remarked, at the reunion held after my father’s death four years ago, they “are at the better family reunion”. And I am sure that they are – all the brothers and sisters together again, most with their spouses except my dad. Maybe they have a card game going – this family was fond of playing cards. And my gram has probably got a game of two- or four-handed solitaire going, and someone else is pouring/mixing drinks.)

I like to think of Greg like that - sitting in on sessions with his old band-mates and maybe some others that he had rubbed elbows with during his lifetime. And maybe, just maybe, checking in on me to see how I'm doing.

Some more of his clothes went to the re-sale shop (I donate, they resell, but no profits go to me). This time it was jackets and fleece tops and sweatshirts, since Houston had its first cold spell of this season and it was time to recycle that kind of clothing. In Minnesota, they don't even wear a jacket on days like this! I hope that someone is keeping warm (on a limited budget) because of this donation. I also have some flannel shirts of his to bring there.

Sorry if this was a bit "down" to post. Too much on my mind lately and I need to get out and do something FUN. Maybe this weekend will change my tempo. Church bazaar and maybe lunch or dinner with a few of the W/W gals who live in my area. We think we will skip the movie group this time.

Gotta run...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

All Saints Day

A weekend to put behind me…

Not a lot goin’ on this past weekend, except –

An oil change that grew more expensive, when the radiator, cracked and leaking antifreeze (so that’s what that smell was!), had to be repaired. The Honda is a ’97 and has many miles on it, and many more to give – I hope – so it was worth the investment. The place where we have had our Hondas worked on for many years, has always been fair and honest. So I gave the assent on getting the necessary work done.

Early voting – so-o-o easy! Used a new polling location that I think a lot of folks do not yet know about. There were maybe 6 or 8 booths, and only 3 were in use when I strolled in. And… NO LINE! I did my bit and only wish that I could have cast a ballot for Greg, too. When I talked with my mom on Sunday, she informed me that Minnesota does NOT have early voting. Maybe we have early voting in Texas, due to the much larger population?

Picked up my re-sized wedding ring, so I have a connection to the old, married gal that I used to be, before I was suddenly turned into a widow. I had the ring set (soldered together years and years ago) sized for my right hand, and my right hand is slightly bigger than my left. It is a very pretty diamond that I probably should list in my will. It felt good to have it again, but a bit odd to wear it on my right hand. Still, a connection to that bright and hopeful day 23 years ago.

Had to meet (at the jeweler's) with the co-worker who bought Greg’s old Subaru. Between the two of us (she and me, that is), we had filled out paperwork that the state of Texas had on the internet and then I signed in a couple of places. A signature was missing in a couple of spots, so it was provided and she was able to file for the title change and make everything all legal-shmegal. You can discuss amongst yourselves, as to whose signature was missing – and just how it was provided. I will deny everything.

Sunday was another tough day for me. Our church always celebrates All Saints Day on the Sunday closest to that day. They read the names (submitted by members of the congregation) of family and friends who have died during the preceding year. I had 3 names this year: Greg’s, his dad’s and my Aunt Rita, who would have turned 90 in March. Plus this year, they dedicated a Prayer Garden and planted some roses in that garden for the congregants who passed away. The service was held outside, the weather was gorgeous (in the 70’s with sunshine and low humidity), and the setting was nice, on a hilly embankment leading down to the little lake (more pond-sized, maybe?). They rang a handbell (one of the deeper-toned ones) after each congregant’s name. It was very emotional, and yet I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. At the same time, it was rather like re-living the memorial service. So another emotional day for me.

Finishing this posting on Election Day. I certainly hope this country has taken to heart just what has transpired the last 8 years and wants to take a new direction. As always, time will tell.

Over and out...